New Release: Gorillaz – The Now Now (First Impressions)

‘The Now Now’ is the sixth studio album by British virtual band Gorillaz. Timeless is a word that comes to mind when I think about Gorillaz. Although I felt ‘Humanz’ was a lacklustre experience, I was eager for the release of ‘The Now Now.’ When the music video for the single ‘Humility’ featuring guitarist George Benson was released I immediately hopped on the hype train. The singles ‘Fire Flies’ and ‘Hollywood’ only added fuel to my hype for the album. I’m going to go through each song individually and then at the end I will summarize my overall first impressions of the project!

Humility‘ was already a classic when the music video dropped. The groove is danceable, the synths are shiny and fresh, and the vibe is optimistic. I love how to intro of the album starts with metronomes that drop suddenly into a pleasing strut of synths and bass. 2-D’s vocal performance comes from a place of confidence, and lyrics evoke political statements and call for change.

The next song ‘Tranz‘ changes up the tone quite a bit; a little bit darker. The style used in Humility stays true here. There are a lot of interesting synthesizers and electronic drums, each with their own unique character. This song drives forward like a train, with a sweet synth bass that is modulated throughout the song. I especially love the chorus because the song opens up and hits you, it’s loud but not overbearing. I feel like this would be an awesome song to listen to while you drive at night down the highway.

Next, we have ‘Hollywood‘ featuring Snoop Dogg and Jamie Principle. I loved this single the first listen, mainly due to the overall sass of the song. It’s grooving all over with a strut of confidence, I guess how you would feel moving to Hollywood and trying to get big. Jamie Principle’s verse fits the vibe Gorillaz have created here. Snoop Dogg really surprised me on this track, his verse is so smooth and just nasty… The modulation on the arpeggiating bassline during the second half of Snoop’s verse is awesome. Overall, the song sums up how enticing Hollywood can be and how harsh it can be in reality.

Kansas‘ is a love song with the protagonist lamenting a non-corresponding love, and he is trying to move on and ‘find another dream.’ The instrumentation matches nicely with the last few songs on the album, at some points, it even reminds me of The Beatles. I’m starting to notice a cool trend where each song starts with a simple idea that is expanded into a beautiful, organic sounding, fleshed-out song. Enjoyed this one.

Sorcererz‘ was one of the singles I had a little bit more trouble getting into initially. However, in context of the album, it works amazingly! So far throughout the album, Gorillaz have shown that they have explored a fresh new sound and mastered it. The usage of analog and electronic instruments is masterful, and the playfulness of the songwriting is endearing.

The next song ‘Idaho‘ changes the vibe of the album up to a very nostalgic sounding acoustic guitar playing what sounds like a folk song. This is definitely the most psychedelic song on the album so far. The is great imagery in the lyrics and the vibe of the music makes me feel euphoric. Overall, this song is very emotional without costing too much in the creativity department.

Lake Zurich‘ doesn’t waste a second enveloping you in this 80s disco sound that will have you shaking your hips and bobbing your head. Calls of LCD Soundsystem with a hint of Daft Punk come to mind here. Synth processing sounds amazing, very fresh and interesting, and the mixing is especially clean. Love the cowbells and the way the song evolves as time progresses, much like every other song so far.

Magic City‘ sounds like a step towards the end of the album. Recalling the infectious groove of the first track on the album Humility. This song gave me chills, I don’t know what it is about the chorus but it plucks on my heartstrings. I would love to see this song live as it has a very transcendent tone. The production is very beautiful and cohesive sounding. I think it’s easy to say this is my favourite track so far.

Fire Flies‘ was already my favourite single, and its placement on the album couldn’t have hit me any harder. Especially after the sudden cut to silence at the end of Magic City. The grooving hi-hats and infectious bass make me feel like I’m floating through space. The song grows into a very self-reflective sounding track. The vocals on the bridge are very cool, and the way they continue in the background towards the end is awesome.

The second last song of the album ‘One Percent‘ starts off sound like its going to be a great track. The pulsating synth grows as it is modulated and hits a peak halfway through the song as other melodies play over it. The production and mixing are great. The lyrics are confusing and abstract, but 2-D sounds like he is truly feeling what he is saying.

I can’t believe we’re at the end of the album already with ‘Souk Eye.’ This song really pulls the whole album together and finishes it off with the bang it deserves. When the house drums and brass comes in I can’t help but smile and feel nostalgic about the small journey I just took through the Gorillaz universe. The piano dances over the playful rhythms played by the electronic drums.

Overall, my first impressions of this album are much higher than I expected. The singles definitely sparked my interest and the whole project did not disappoint the way Humanz did for me. The entire album has a very distinct cohesive sound, and it sounds like the Gorillaz had a fun time playing with it! My initial favourite tracks are ‘Magic City,’ ‘Fire Flies,’ and ‘Lake Zurich.’ Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments!

 

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